The Restoration Principle

7 — The Restoration Principle (2)

“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent” (Revelation 2:5).

THE PROCESS OF APOSTASY WAS WELL UNDERWAY IN EPHESUS. As the Lord’s warning above indicates, it wouldn’t be long before He revoked His relationship to that church, if they didn’t repent. But their apostasy, at least at this time, did not involve doctrinal falsehood; they had lost their love for the Lord (2:4). So when we talk about restoration, we must be willing to see when we ourselves have drifted away. And not only that, but Sewell Hall was on target when he said, “Not only may we ourselves be led into error, but even in defense of the truth we may lose control of our passions and stoop to devious dealings and party politics — carnal methods which are as repulsive to the Lord as false teaching.” All of which is to say, there is more than one way in which a church might leave the Lord, and we dare not limit our discussion to matters of doctrine and ecclesiology. It is not only into the Scriptures that we must look — it’s also into our own hearts.

But should the church today even be attempting to be what it was in the apostolic era? Is “restoration” a valid goal? The answer is an emphatic Yes — if we believe Christ and His apostles actually said what is attributed to them and if we believe it to be true. (1) Jesus charged His apostles with teaching new disciples all that they, the apostles, had been commanded by Him (Matthew 28:18–20). (2) The Lord’s church was built on the “foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20). (3) Paul’s apostolic authority extended to “all the churches” (1 Corinthians 7:17). (4) Peter pointed his readers not only to the Old Testament prophets but also to “the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior” (2 Peter 3:2). (5) Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles into “all truth” (John 16:13). Clearly, the Lord meant for future generations to find this truth more than merely “interesting.”

So I agree with Ed Harrell (whom I have desperately missed since his passing). The original, apostolic formulation of the Lord’s church is what I want. I don’t plan ever to cease from its quest.

“The centerpiece of my intellectual universe is biblical primitivism, a search for the first pure truths and ordinances. I am seeking that illusive, pristine image of Christianity as it came from the mind of God” (David Edwin Harrell, Jr.).

Gary Henry — +

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